The View from the West Hill

View from the West HillThe West Hill in Hastings is an open space that separates the Old Town with the town centre. As well as the castle and smugglers caves, the hill was once the site of a windmill and used for farming.View from the West Hill

Now it is a pleasant green space that offers, as it always has, the best views of Hastings. Here a some photos of those views taken as morning showers left the town and headed over the channel.View from the West HillThese photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Cliff End

Cliff EndCliff End at Fairlight marks the point where Pett Level starts. On the beach, below the cliffs, you can see millions of years of geological and natural history all within the same area. On that beach are fossil evidence and footprints of dinosaurs, the remains of a Bronze Age forest and the detritus of the modern world.Dinosaur FootprintThe footprint above is one of several found along this stretch of Cliff End beach. It’s likely to have been an Iguanodon, who left the footprint whilst grazing near a river. The beach is full of huge rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. This stretch of cliffs all the way west to Hastings is highly unstable, and is slowly falling into the sea. Looking at them, it is clear why this is happening. Great fissures run up and along them, which are easily widened by plant roots, rain water and the endless work of the sea.Cliff EndThe geology here is fascinating, and best explained on this website. The Bronze Age forest, which is around 6,000 years old is found a short distance from the cliffs, and is visible when the tide is low. pett-level-walk-4This BBC article provides a good history about these ancient forests. Lots of other things can be seen on the beach, and the modern world is well represented. Most notably along this stretch is the axle and wheel stuck between some rocks. Cliff EndCliff End beach is a great place for a seaside walk, particularly at low tide, when the rock pools and sand is revealed. It is even more enjoyable knowing that in one 360 degree view you can see a substantial part of the history of the Earth.pett-level-walk-6All of these photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Royal Military Canal

Royal Military Canal

The Royal Military Canal stretches 28 miles from Cliff End at Pett to Seabrook at Hythe. This canal wasn’t created for trade however. It was built as a defensive line, a third line of defence against the expected invasion by Napoleon. Had he made an attempt to invade, he would first need to defeat the Royal Navy. That done the line of Martello Towers would next need to be overcome. If they made it past the towers, they would then face the Military Canal.

Started in 1804, it took 4.5 years to construct at a cost of about 19.5 million in today’s money. Napoleon was defeated at Trafalgar in 1805, which pretty much ended his ambitions of invading Britain. So the canal was obsolete by the time it was finished.

Royal Military CanalThere is a break in the man made canal; at Winchelsea where it meets the River Brede and at Iden Lock where it meets the River Rother. The rivers take up the job of being the water barrier. It is the third largest defensive structure in the UK, after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.

Royal Military Canal

A good defensive structure never ages, so when Britain was again under threat of invasion, this time by the Germans, it was again used as part of a network of defences. Pill boxes were constructed along its length, some of which are still around.

Royal Military Canal

The canal continues to serve an important function across Romney Marsh, acting as a source of water for irrigation during the summer and an outlet for flood water during the winter. It is also a haven for wildlife and fish as well as being very picturesque.Royal Military Canal

The View from Rye Church Tower

Rye Church

The view from Rye Church Tower is fantastic and worth experiencing if you ever visit the town. It is accessed from inside the church for a small fee. The climb to the top takes you through very narrow passages and rickety steps. You’ll see an original 15th century clock mechanism, and a full array of the church bells. Interestingly, one of the original bells was stolen during a French raid during the 13th century. It was recovered the following year from Normandy during a raid by men of Rye and Winchelsea and put to use as attack warning bells. There it stayed for nearly 300 years before being restored to the church. The old bells were replaced entirely during the 1700’s and these are the ones on display now.

You can still get a good sense of how the town would have been when it was part of the Cinque Ports even though the landscape has changed substantially since.  The flat land that now makes up Pett Level and Romney Marsh would have been wetlands. The Rother would have been a substantial tidal river, five or six times wider than it is now. This map provides an idea how the land used to look.

These photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Rye Church

Battle of Britain Memorial

Battle of Britain MemorialThe Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent was built in 1993. The site is built on the White Cliffs and commands excellent views over the Channel and Folkestone. The memorial centre piece is a statue of a pilot, placed in the centre of a huge propeller created with paving stones. At the rear is a memorial wall with the names of all the ‘Few’ that were involved in the battle on the Allied side.Battle of Britain Memorial 3

A new visitor centre opened last year and offers an overview of the battle and a ‘Scramble’ experience to help people imagine what being a pilot was like during the battle, if a walk though and sound effects can ever achieve that.Battle of Britain Memorial 4

This photograph shows a great view of the area from above, and gives a good idea of the layout and design. Also on site are full size replicas of a Spitfire and Hurricane. The presence of the replica planes adds an important context to the memorial and provide a big impact on the children visiting the site.Battle of Britain Memorial

Each of these photos can be viewed full size on Flickr by clicking on them.

The Flooded Rother

River RotherThe recent heavy rain has been too much for the river Rother, which has overflowed its banks. This flooding is not unusual, and happens every year. These photographs were taken near Wittersham, Kent.

River Rother

The morning was calm after the most recent rain moved off, leaving a patchy mist through which the sun struggled to shine. Of course these conditions are perfect for taking photographs.

River Rother

A family of swans were enjoying a morning swim, moving silently up the river and foraging for food. Looking up river, away from the rising sun, the scene looked much bleaker. The mist was thicker and made the landscape seem more mysterious. The grey mist made it appropriate for a black and white image.

River Rother

All of these images and more can be viewed on my Flicker page. Just click on them to go there.

Rye Bay

Rye BaySometime ago I was walking along the access road that runs between Winchelsea Beach and Rye Harbour. When walking in places I visit often I’m always on the look out for new perspectives to avoid taking the same photograph. The weather and time of day can offer plenty of variety to a scene, but a view across Rye Bay to Dungeness Power Station is still the same view no matter the weather.

About halfway along I noticed that someone had placed a large rock on top of one of the groynes. There was something about the composition of the two that was appealing to me.

I wondered for a while who placed the stone there and why. Perhaps the person wanted to create a different photograph themselves, or maybe to paint the view. I think it was deliberately placed for a reason, rather than someone sticking it there thoughtlessly. Whatever the reason it worked for me. I certainly wouldn’t have thought of creating a beach sculture to add a feature to a scene.

It’s something I’ll bear in mind for the future though.

You can view this scene of Rye Bay full size on my Flickr page by clicking on it.

Camber Sands

Camber SandsCamber Sands is a unique part of the East Sussex coastline. Whereas the majority of the beaches that stretch from Brighton to Dover have cliffs or shingle coastlines, Camber has lovely flat sandy beaches. Most other places around here only see sand at very low tide. Camber is a small area though, just 3km long.

As one of the few sandy beaches in this part of the country it attracts up to 25,000 people a day during the peak summer season.Camber SandsThe sands are created by the constant erosion of the pebbles through the work of the sea and tides. These are deposited at Camber. When the tide goes out, as far as 1km here, the sun dries out the sand and the wind blows the loose grains inland. These grains gradually build up around grass, vegetation and other obstacles forming the dunes that rise above the beach. This process has been happening for centuries and continues to do so. Camber Sands are slowly growing.

Of course this is a special area for wildlife and biodiversity so is a site of Special Scientific Interest. It also interests film makers and has been used for several films including the 2014 Monuments Men.Camber Sands

A View of Rye


This view of Rye reflected was taken whilst walking up from Camber Sands. At ground level there wasn’t a breath of wind and the great clouds were slowly moving across the sky. I ventured off the path onto the relatively stable scrub that borders the river. At high tide it is sometimes inundated, but it was dry this time. You are fairly safe on the scrub. I wouldn’t dare step onto the mud as you never know how deep it is.

It’s rare for me to see the river this calm, and offer such reflections.

You can click on the image to view it full size on my Flickr page.

Brightling Needle

Brightling Needle 2The Brightling Needle stands at the 2nd highest point in Sussex, a couple of miles from the village of Brightling. It was built in around 1810 by John Fuller. No one quite knows why it was built, but it was possibly to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Brightling NeedleBest known as ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, the squire of Brightling village built several other unusual buildings in East Sussex, Including Fuller’s Tower which can be seen from the village. One of its windows peek out from the cover of the trees, watching the village like an unblinking eye.Tower FollyJohn Fuller was a politician and philanthropist. As well as the follies, he is best known for saving Bodiam Castle from destruction, funding the Eastbourne Lifeboat, and funding the Belle Tout Lighthouse on Beachy Head. His pyramid mausoleum, within the Brightling Church cemetery was built in 1810, 24 years before his death.Pyramid MausoleumJohn Fuller’s mausoleum is very similar to that of James Burton, the architect of St Leonards on Sea. Was Burton inspired by Fuller’s memorial? These pyramid mausoleums are still being built. Actor Nic Cage apparently has one already waiting for him in a New Orleans graveyard. Brightling ChurchEach of these photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.